Riwaq is a Palestinian organization for the preservation of architectural heritage. It was conceived by architect Suad Amiry and opened its doors in 1991. RIWAQ has recognized the challenging complexities of preserving Palestinian collective memory through projects that document and restore architectural heritage sites across the West Bank and Gaza. Harnessing the energy and skills of students, architects, archaeologists, and historians, RIWAQ embarked on the Registry of Historic Buildings, a thirteen year project (1994-2007) resulting in the publication of three volumes that include detailed histories, maps, and photos of approximately 420 villages in sixteen districts across the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza. Other projects have not been as vast in size, but boast a similarly vision with equally lasting impacts. Through its work, RIWAQ has succeeded in responding to the vital question of what it takes to rehabilitate an entire town, not only physically, but socially, culturally, and economically.
The "third jewel" in al-Haram al-Sharif, this Mamluk structure underwent a first phase of restoration in 2001 to house the Al-Aqsa Center for the Restoration of Islamic Manuscripts and a rare manuscript collection.
A Fund in Trust agreement was signed with UNESCO for the training of staff and purchase of the specialized equipment needed for the establishment of a restoration laboratory, to be arranged by UNESCO. Five Palestinian technicians were trained in Italy in restoration techniques over three years; UNESCO funded the first two years of the course while WA funded their third year, completed in 2002. The roof rehabilitation, including the delicate restoration of the original Mamluk tiles, was completed in 2003. After two years of delay due to the prevailing political conditions, the first stage of restoration of the main halls was completed in 2004, including special tiling design and wooden partitions. A complete mechanical ventilation and air-conditioning system was installed to ensure environmental control for this delicate work. The Al-Aqsa Center for the Restoration of Islamic Manuscripts started functioning in 2008.
Source: Old City of Jerusalem Revitalisation Programme website